Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 6 AUGUST 2021

Premier Peter Gutwein

Good afternoon everyone, today I’m joined today by Katherine Morgan-Wicks and Dr Mark Veith.

I’ll start by giving the update I believe most people are interested in. Over the past 24 hours we’ve conducted 1643 lab tests and they have all returned negative.

Obviously we will see an increase in testing today, and we will remain vigilant as we work our way through this.

In terms of what’s happening across the country, we know this virus moves with people, and is causing challenges across the nation.

We currently have restrictions in place with all of Victoria, NSW, 11 Local Government Areas in Queensland in addition to high-risk premises in Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and Cairns.

As you’ve be aware, NSW today recorded 291 new cases; there were 10 in Queensland and four in Victoria.

As I’ve said, this is serious - Delta is a game changer.  It is more virulent and more unpredictable and is twice as contagious.

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve said it was a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’, we would have a case here in Tasmania, and yesterday that was confirmed with our first positive in hotel quarantine. I want to make this clear again – this was picked up in quarantine and not a case of community transmission.

Overnight, work has continued on contacting people who may have come into contact with the man, who has since left the state and returned to NSW.

Our contact tracing teams have identified around 200 people to be assessed and managed, including around 100 on the Melbourne to Launceston flight that travelled  into the State on the 2nd of August.

In terms of testing and the work that’s underway, Dr Veitch will provide more detail in a moment. I have been advised that those occupants at the hotel on the same floor, have also been tested and returned negative tests.

In terms of the quarantine hotel employees, I’d make the point that the protocols require them to undertake a daily salvia test and also are PCR test weekly – all have tested negative at this point and in terms of vaccination for this group, I’d make the point that they are in in the 1A group and I understand more than 90% employees have already had their vaccination.

In terms of staff across the public sector, we currently have eight staff from Health, 12 from Tasmania Police, and 10 from Biosecurity currently in isolation. My understanding is – in the main – they have all be vaccinated, although there are a few questions in terms of the Biosecurity staff to work through.

Importantly, all contacts are being required to undertake testing, and depending on their circumstances and risk assessment, may be required to quarantine for up to 14 days from the time of their contact with the case.

As I’ve said, yesterday there were 1643 lab tests conducted and were pleasingly all negative.

We will continue to keep the community informed as the remaining test results return over the weekend, with an update to be provided each day over the course of the weekend – tomorrow morning and Sunday morning.

To touch on our vaccine program, it is going very well and earlier this week we reached a major milestone –of 50 per cent of eligible Tasmanians have now received their first dose of the vaccine.

However, we need to continue to encourage as many eligible Tasmanians as possible to ensure they safeguard themselves against the virus. So don’t wait – vaccinate, that’s been our message consistently.

I’m pleased to see pharmacies join the Tasmanian roll out and I’m advised up to 26 will come on board very shortly. The first group of 11 will join the roll out on August 16, with up to an additional 15 later in the month, all things going well.

The first group of  pharmacies will be in Burnie, Devonport, Ulverstone, Latrobe, Legana, Riverside, Risdon Vale and Sorell. That will be finalised later today.

Other pharmacies who have expressed interest are likely to commence in the coming weeks, but the precise timing and locations will be determined by the Australian Government after consultation.

Importantly, our safeguards only work if we use them together.

Please – remember to use the Check In TAS app when you buy your groceries, visit the gym or head to the cinema.

When it is your turn to be vaccinated, don’t hesitate. Don’t wait – vaccinate.

Cover your coughs and sneezes, wash and sanitise your hands regularly, maintain appropriate distancing, stay home if you’re unwell and get tested – even if you have mild symptoms.

As we pointed out yesterday, now is the time to make sure you have a COVID kit at home – masks and sanitisers, so that we are all prepared and ready.

Tasmanians have throughout this have worked together to keep on top of this and importantly, we need to keep on top of COVID together.

I’ll now hand over to Dr Veitch for an update, who will take questions and then Kath will provide a vaccination update and I’ll return for questions.